Bennett happy for warm-up ahead of four-day start
NATIONAL cricket coach Junior Bennett is pleased his players were able to get a final warm-up game ahead of today's clash with Guyana at Sabina Park in the opening round of the Regional Four-day tournament.
The Jamaicans, comfortably the most successful unit in four-day cricket over the last decade, had a two-day trial match that ended on Tuesday, after which 13 players were selected for the encounter against the Guyanese.
Bennett told the Jamaica Observer that the game was a welcome fine-tuning tool following a battery of limited-overs cricket before and during the recent Regional Super50 competition.
"It is good to get in a match before the season starts. We are just coming off a one-day tournament, so a lot of the emphasis was on the shorter version of cricket so it's really good to get in a [two-day] match before," the head coach said on Monday.
He said this season's move to play numerous two-day practice games before the start of the Super50 tournament meant there was a healthy balance in their preparations, despite the short turnaround between both competitions.
"When you look at it we played about four two-day games, plus a four-day game, so we got in some practice. We tweaked both programmes together, whereby we did not leave one behind. In the end, I think that worked well for us," he explained.
The veteran coach, who has been a major figure behind Jamaica's recent successes, was not overly bothered that leading batsmen Marlon Samuels and Christopher Gayle, as well as top spinner Nikita Miller, are unavailable for the game against the formidable Guyana team.
"Over the years it always happens...you are going to lose the international players to the regional team. So whoever is selected will have the responsibility for getting the job done.
"We have some talented youths here and it's just for them to put their best foot forward and play some patient cricket because they have time to get things done," Bennett assured.
The left-handed Gayle, who recently returned to the West Indies set-up after injury, is nursing stiffness in his back and hamstring.
The stylish right-hander Samuels and left-arm finger spinner Nikita Miller are both in the West Indies One-Day squad to face the visiting England team.